Residents feel '˜short-changed' by hospital plan
Health chiefs understand the frustration of Berwick residents over the slow progress on a new hospital, but emphasised that they are listening.
An update to members of Northumberland County Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny committee on Tuesday followed a public meeting earlier this month on new proposals for a hospital to be part of an integrated development, including health, social care and leisure services.
Stephen Young, strategic head of corporate affairs at Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), told the meeting that a business case is planned for completion in the summer with a public consultation, if required, to take place in the autumn.
This will follow the publication of all of the feedback from the public meeting as well as the other engagement exercises that have taken place in recent months.
“People are frustrated and we appreciate that,” he said, highlighting a number of common themes in the feedback, including services lost since the new hospital in Cramlington opened, what services would be wanted on the new site and transport issues involved in travelling to other hospitals in the county.
He added that there was a lot of discussion about the location of the new development with criticism that the CCG hadn’t considered the Seton Hall site, but Mr Young said that this was exactly the point of consulting with the public.
Coun Georgina Hill, member for Berwick East, read a letter from a Berwick resident with several concerns before summarising the main issues she has picked up on.
She said that there was frustration due to how long it’s been going on and that the community ‘isn’t sold on the joint venture as they feel they are getting short-changed’.
Coun Catherine Seymour said: “As councillor for Berwick North, where the hospital has been for 150 years, I can understand the frustration. Anything new is seen with suspicion, but I’m listening to the experts.”
“In terms of engagement, I’m very happy with what you have done. Everyone has known about it, has talked about it. I’m comfortable that you are listening to the people of Berwick.”